An interview with Aashna Mehra ‘15, an investment analyst at Greenbacker Capital and current MBA student at the Yale School of Management. Check out her LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aashna-mehra-79717663/
JPM: What did you study at Princeton? What did you do outside of class? What was your senior thesis about?
AM: I majored in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and got a minor in Materials Science. On campus, I was involved with the International Relations Council and Naacho, in addition to spending every waking moment in lab my junior and senior years. I worked in the lab of Dan Steingart where my junior independent work and senior thesis were focused on alkaline batteries, and particularly doped metal carbonates as cathode materials.
JPM: What is your current job title?
AM: I am an Investment Analyst at Greenbacker Capital, a sustainable infrastructure fund that focuses on acquiring, owning and operating renewable energy assets with long-term contracted cash flows. We mostly focus on wind and solar for now but I am working actively to originate and complete our first energy storage deal sometime within the next few months, so the battery knowledge is coming in handy!
JPM: Tell us about the day-to-day for your job?
AM: There is a lot of Excel, a lot of financial modeling, tax equity, capital accounts, numbers and more numbers! I also participate in due diligence with my team so sometimes I am reading hundreds of pages of Power Purchase Agreements, Interconnection Agreements, and all legal documents associated with project finance.
JPM: What has your overall career path been like? Why did you make specific pivots/switches along the way?
AM: It’s been a really interesting ride. I came into Princeton thinking I would go to graduate school and get a Ph.D. after college. I instead decided to work for a year with a Member of Parliament in India (which is where I grew up) who also happens to be the former Union Minister for Power in the country. I then went to Yale School of Management to complete my first year of MBA, where I focused my curriculum on energy finance, and am currently in my gap year as part of the Silver Scholars program. I interned in banking at Barclays this past summer and am now working for the year at Greenbacker and absolutely loving it!
JPM: In what ways did Princeton prepare you for what you are doing after graduation?
AM: I think the rigor of the Princeton curriculum is unparalleled – it only gets easier from here on out, I promise! At Princeton, I learnt how to learn – how to pick up new things quickly and apply myself in situations where I had no idea what was going on. Having said that, I wish there were more classes at Princeton that were more like a “practicum” and less “theoretical”. It was the first year of business school that really prepared me for what I do at work every day.
JPM: What is the most surprising thing about energy that you have learned about since graduation?
AM: Everybody in this industry knows everyone else. There’s likely no more than two degrees of separation between any two individuals.
JPM: Is there anything in energy that currently excites you?
AM: I know batteries and energy storage have become buzzwords but I am so excited for what’s to come! Apart from that, I want to see how electric vehicle charging networks emerge as an asset class and what business model powers the “gas station of the future”.
JPM: Do you have a recommendation/tidbit of advice for current students?
AM: I think the most important aspect of being in this industry (or any industry for that matter) is to put yourself out there and meet people and seek opinions that may be wildly different from your own. Debates in this industry (what technology will win the race to market, gas vs. solar, etc.) are impassioned, and often political, and you should assimilate as much knowledge as you can before making your own conclusions.